Colorado Axes Plan to Blow Up 8.5M-Pound Runaway Boulder, Will Modify Highway Instead

It was $200,000 cheaper to reconfigure the road around the house-sized boulder, which will now become a state landmark called Memorial Rock.

City of Ouray on Facebook

Late last month, a pair of massive boulders tumbled onto Colorado Highway 145, causing the busy highway to be closed indefinitely. The state was originally expected to remove the heavier of the two rocks—a stone that weighs a colossal 8.5 million pounds—by blasting it into a million pieces. However, it appears that authorities have had a change of heart.

Officials have now decided to reroute traffic around the boulder instead, a move that will reportedly save taxpayers $200,000. According to The Denver Post, rejigging CO 145 to go around the big rock will cost a total of $1.3 million while the more explosive solution would have cost $1.5 million. "Some" of the funds will apparently come from federal emergency dollars, according to the original report.

What's more, Colorado has plans to turn the fallen boulder into a tourist attraction. "We expect that for generations to come, people will have the opportunity to observe this geological masterpiece that we're calling Memorial Rock," said Colorado governor Jared Polis. When the Rockies give you lemons, make lemonade, I suppose.

The house-sized Memorial Rock created a chasm measuring eight feet deep, and it was accompanied by a relatively smaller rock weighing 2.3 million pounds. That boulder was reportedly blasted on May 27 and cleared off of the roadway. 

Rockfalls such as this are often caused by "frost heaving" brought on by changing seasons. Winter ice that once held rocks in place melt as spring rolls around and, well, no longer hold said rocks in place. No related injuries or fatalities were reported.

Back in February, about 10 million pounds of rock slid down California's Angeles Crest, a popular driving destination for car enthusiasts. Repair efforts are slowly marching on.